Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling - Teacher and Student Review

  • What is this book about?
    • Hayden’s answer: Aven is trying to fit in in Arizona even though she doesn’t have arms.
    • Mrs. Kuehler’s answer: Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus  is about Aven, a thirteen year old girl that was born without arms. What’s special about Aven is, she can do almost anything anyone with arms can do, she just uses her feet! When her dad gets a new job in Arizona, Aven is forced to move from Kansas and all her friends that are used to Aven and don’t stare at her like strangers do. Making new friends is hard for anyone, arms or no arms, so what is in store for Aven in Arizona? Spoiler (not really): Aven DOES make some new friends in Arizona and maybe even stumbles upon a mystery in her new home
  • Have you ever had a similar experience where you felt different and worried about meeting new people?
    • Hayden’s answer:  When I broke my leg.
    • Mrs. Kuehler’s answer: I think we all feel different at some point in our lives and it’s important to feel that so we can have empathy for others! I know I was worried when I had to transition from elementary school to middle school and it all turned fine.
  • Would you do anything differently if you were Aven? What did you admire most about Aven's character?
    • Hayden’s answer: That she made the most of not having arms and that she was always happy.
    • Mrs. Kuehler’s answer: I really, really admired Aven’s spunk and positive attitude! She really didn’t let anything stand in her way and advocated for herself in such an impressive way. I also thought Aven was hilarious and I laughed out loud while reading many times! Making fun of her disability is probably a coping mechanism for her, but I love it when people don’t take themselves too seriously.
  • What did the main character learn?
    • Hayden’s answer: That it’s very easy to meet new friends.
    • Mrs. Kuehler’s answer: Aven is already a pretty wise 13-year-old and someone that I would like to be more like, but she did learn a few things. I think she learned just how capable she really is despite her "disability" (I'm beginning to hate that word) and how strong she is when faced with an enormous challenge (such as moving and making all new friends in a new school).
  • What did you learn from reading this book?
    • Hayden’s answer: That nothing’s impossible even if you don’t have arms.
    • Mrs. Kuehler’s answer: I learned a lot about Tourette Syndrome because Aven’s friend Connor had Tourette Syndrome and my heart broke for him. I cannot imagine how difficult that would be and I am so glad he has a friend like Aven.
  • Were you sad when the book ended? Why or why not?
    • Hayden’s answer: Yes, because she was so engaging and fun there were so many twists and I wanted it to keep on going.
    • Mrs. Kuehler’s answer: I didn’t want the book to end because I wanted to know what Aven would do next. Aven didn’t let anything stand in her way and did almost everything that people with arms do. I just know she’s going to defy odds and do something really great in her life and I want to know what it is!
  • What do you think will happen to the characters after the end of the book? What are they doing now?
    • Hayden’s answer:  I think Aven is going to visit Josephine and keep on writing on her blog. 
    • Mrs. Kuehler’s answer: I think that Aven will continue to help her parents at Stagecoach Pass and the park will become popular again. I think that Aven’s relationship with Josephine will grow and they will become very close. I also think that Aven will continue writing her blog and possibly become a writer someday. I could see her writing sitcoms - she's so funny!
  • Would you recommend this book to others? Why or why not?
    • Hayden’s answer: Yes, because Aven was so interesting and funny.

    • Mrs. Kuehler’s answer: DEFINITELY! I have already told just about anyone I possibly could about this book. I know a lot of people love Wonder by RJ Palacio and Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper and if you do, you will also enjoy Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus as well!

This book is out now, so definitely look for it to add to your classroom library. It would also make a great gift for a young reader in your life! 


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